Get a grip – but do it your own damn self

Call it my latest Golf Pride Victory.

Never again shall I darken Golf Town’s doors with an armload of irons in need of new grips. No more putting up with grips that fail to perform to expectations. And no more disinterested club techs who botch requests for extra wraps of tape or who cant tell the difference between midsize and oversize.

I have learned to regrip my own clubs. No, I’m not a certified club builder . . . I just play one on the Internet.

Here’s the deal: changing a golf grip is only a couple of steps more complicated than changing a lightbulb, and its far more satisfying. Not to mention the fact that if you’re browsing GT’s endless corridors one day and come upon a grip you’d like to try, well, then, you can go for it.

What’s far more important to me is the ability to experiment with different grip textures and sizes across the golf bag in order to discover what works best for me.

A couple extra wraps of tape under the left hand to discourage a flip? Done. Fatten up the bottom end to try and discourage that nagging slice? No problem. Like cord in the long irons but something softer in the wedges? Step into my man-cave, friend, and learn how it’s done.

All you need is a hobby vise, easily procured from Home Depot for about $20, and a regrip kit from any of the major manufacturers or Golfsmith (Golf Town may be able to set you up here, too).

The kits typically come with 13 new grips of your choice, a small bottle of grip solvent, several strips of grip tape (double-sided masking tape, essentially) and a rubber vise clamp to prevent you from crushing the shaft.

Youll also want a shallow pan to put underneath your work area to catch and recover spilled solvent. Otherwise, things will get messy.

Heres the drill: put the rubber clamp on the shaft and clamp the club into the vise, with the grip end extending over the end of the counter, giving yourself sufficient room to work.

To save grief later, align the club in the vise so the clubface is square, the toe is pointing skyward and the top of the shaft is facing you. This way, aligning the grip accurately will be a simple matter of pointing the markings straight up.

Use a carpet knife or box cutter to cut off the existing grip. Take extra care with graphite-shafted clubs, as too much enthusiasm could end up damaging the shaft. For an extra few bucks, you can invest in a cutting device with a curled blade that ensures only the grip gets cut, smoothly and effortlessly.

Peel off the old tape. This can get time-consuming, depending on how long its been since the club was regripped, and it’s hard on the fingernails. If time is of the essence or you have a boatload of clubs to do, Golfsmith sells a specially designed scraper with a curved blade to make short work of the chore.

Id recommend the scraper if you have a lot of graphite shafts; the tape seems to come off steel shafts much more easily.

Next comes fresh tape. Using either the strips or a tape roll, simply install the tape lengthwise, wrapping it around the shaft before peeling off the backing.

Now youre ready for the solvent, an oddly sweet-smelling distillation that works initially to lube up the grip and the tape for easy installation, but which also activates the tape for maximum adhesion.

Hold a new grip vertically with the opening at the top and your thumb over the small hole on the bottom. Squeeze a quantity of the solvent into the top of the grip, then give it a shake _ cover the top with your other thumb first, there, Boo _ to fully coat the inside.

With the pan properly positioned underneath, place the butt end of the grip over top of the tape, remove your thumbs and let the excess solvent spill out over the taped shaft. Be sure to coat the tape completely, using the solvent-soaked butt end of the grip to spread it around.

Now comes the fun part. With both hands, attack from the side as you push the grip onto the shaft; once the butt end is completely inside the grip, use your body weight to push it forward until it completely covers the tape. It will never cease to surprise you how easily it goes on, provided you’re not blocking the vent hole.

Once the grip is in place, make the small adjustments necessary to make sure the grip is properly aligned. From there, clean up any spillage, double-check your alignment and presto! Your newly gripped club is done (give or take 24 hours to let the grip bond properly with the tape).

Ah, the satisfaction – it’s all the more soothing if you’re surrounded by household chores you can’t be bothered to do.

I also invested in a special shim designed to make it easier to fit the grip over those big-butt shafts (insert tasteless punchline here), but have thus far found it totally unnecessary for standard clubs.

Ever see a club tech installing a grip? Yes, its as easy as it looks. In fact, Golf Prides website has a video that walks you through the process. Once you get good, you could probably zip through an entire set in less than a couple of hours.

Of course, you could just pay me to do it . . .

Either way, watch this space for an in-depth review of the newly installed Lamkin Crossline Tour grips, which the manufacturer bills as featuring “Sting-Free” technology _ a layer of Kevlar to absorb and dissapate the shock of mishits at impact.

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James McCarten

When James McCarten isn't at the Ottawa offices of The Canadian Press, where he works as parliamentary news editor, he's either on the golf course or putting off his latest freelance golf-writing gig to spend time with wife Lisa and school-age kids Claire and Lucas. With 20 years of experience in Canadian journalism, James also suffers from a financially crippling addiction to all things Scotty Cameron.

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